[Editorial Analysis] For the farmer, things to Do

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture

Prelims level: agricultural income level

Mains level: Economic growth and development


• Though more than 86 per cent farmers are small and marginal in India (Agriculture Census, 2015-16) farm size and productivity have an inverse relationship.

• Despite small farm sizes, with better quality inputs and hard work combined with the scientific management of farming, productivity and production have gone up.

• However, ensuring food security for the country through their hard work and increased production has not meant greater income and prosperity for the farmers.

• How to increase the income of farmers is the central question and several possible solutions are being discussed in the policy circles.

Possibilities for raising the agricultural income level

• Reduction in cost of cultivation, increase in productivity and production, and remunerative price for produce are the three fundamental sutras for a farmer’s prosperity.

• First, the price of seeds is of critical importance in agriculture carrier of scientific research and advancement.

• Newer varieties are high yielding and also pest and disease resistant.

• The newer seeds affordable and accessible for the farmers.
• The price of hybrid seeds has been going up and in the case of vegetables, it is actually prohibitive.

• This is where the role of research becomes important.

• Scientists must develop open pollinated varieties with better yields.

• Second, Scientists can be allowed to get a royalty from the private sector in order to incentivise them to continue doing high-end research but for the public sector, it should come free in order to make the fruits of science available to the farmers at a reasonable and affordable price.

• Third, access to formal credit should be made available to all farmers.

• Fourth, direct investment subsidy to the farmers. Motivate the farmer to grow millets in a water-scarce area rather than paddy or sugarcane, which further deplete the water table.

• Fifth, allowing the leasing of land benefits of various schemes to the real cultivator rather than the landowner.

Way forward

• Today, most sharecroppers are not able to access the various benefits extended by the government whether it is crop insurance, accident insurance or different input subsidies.

• Finally, the unviable size of landholdings in most states.

• As per Agriculture Census data, the average landholding size in India came down from 2.28 ha in 1970-71 to 1.08 ha in 2015-16.

• In some of the densely populated states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the average landholding size is 0.73 ha and 0.39 ha, respectively.

• This implies that more than 50 per cent of farmers have less than 0.73 hectares of land in UP and less than 0.39 hectares of land in Bihar respectively.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Consider the following matches and find out the incorrect one?

A. Sangai- Keibul Lamjao National Park

B. Black Buck-Endangered

C. Hangul- Dachigam National Park

D. Indian Pangolin- Near-threatened

Correct Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Briefly explain the immediate measures by which poor conditions of farmers can be improved significantly.

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